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New charity would champion locally grown food

Published on Friday, 01 March 2013

Health food advocate Ashley Tucker has created her own line of Caribbean-inspired beverages to help fund a food awareness charity.

Her Sip and Savor line of drinks are on sale at local stores.

Ms Tucker will use the proceeds to fund the Bermuda Culinary Creation Centre, a charity she plans to establish to promote the benefits of locally grown food.

“A lot of people are interested in learning more about food and culinary arts,” she said. “It’s necessary because you can see the costs of health insurance rising. Bermuda has some of the highest rates of food-related illnesses in the world; diabetes is a big issue. The Diabetes Centre is working on making information available to people but I feel as though there is more that can be done help promote local, fresh food. I want to help people realise how simple it can be to produce fresh food for themselves and incorporate small healthy lifestyle choices that in the end can make a huge difference.”

Drinks in the Sip and Savor line have been named cayenne concoction, lemon grass, tamarind limeade and mauby. They contain ingredients such as lemon grass, jiggery (a pure form of sugar), bark, agave, cayenne pepper, spices and stevia.

“Heaven on Earth”, is how Miss Tucker describes the taste of her beverages. Lifestyle tried one and found it tasted more like a slightly spiced iced tea. It was a refreshing and pleasant taste.

“I am hoping that my products will be marketable worldwide,” she said. “I utilise and fuse flavours that happen to have beneficial healing properties. Premium ingredients and local products are used to create each concoction. The ingredients used in my beverages are not only used in Caribbean cuisine, but also found in the cuisines of Asia.”

Miss Tucker studied food and nutrition at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, and at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island.

“In university I worked on product development, which is something I like doing,” she said. “I worked in a coffee company, formulating spice rubs that used coffee to pop flavours. One of the benefits of this was that by adding coffee as an accent you could reduce the amount of salt needed in the seasoning by about a third. We tried it with non-caffeinated coffee and found it worked just as well.”

Her charity will offer workshops in healthy cooking and eating. It will also carry out altruistic activities such as providing vegan cupcakes to the less fortunate in the community. Johnson and Wales sent her a container full of equipment such as stoves, fridges, a combi-oven, stainless steel work benches and a prep sink to help her out.

“They are just waiting to be utilised,” she said. “A lot of schools have dropped cooking classes. That is something I would initiate here. I would like to work with schools and organisations to create a culinary arts curriculum. I have actually been doing small pilot cooking classes and I have found the children really gravitate to hands-on learning.”

She said our bodies are like an expensive car; they need high quality fuel to make them run at their best.

“We should be eating wholesome, whole, raw foods as much as possible,” she said. “We should be eating local foods, because they are higher in energy because they are just picked and ready to eat. Food loses nutritional value when it has to travel over a great distance.”

Her parents, Horace and Audrey Tucker, are in the restaurant industry. Her mother runs Island Cuisine in Southampton and her father runs Bermy Cuisine in the City of Hamilton.

“My mother worked when we were younger, but cooked every meal we ate, even the bread our sandwiches were on,” Miss Tucker said. “I got to spend a lot of time at home learning from my mother. I enjoyed listening to her stories while she was busy at work in the kitchen. I enjoyed getting involved in meal preparation and food. That is how I started.”

Sip and Savor beverages are available at Bermy Cuisine, It’s Only Natural, People’s Pharmacy, J&J Produce, Juice & Beans and Windy Bank Market.

For information visit www.ashtucker.com or call 332-1611.

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For the Royal Gazette: http://www.royalgazette.com/article/20130301/ISLAND03/703019993